Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga yesterday described Cde Robert Mugabe as an “iconic leader of African emancipation”, who empowered the nation through the land reform programme “at the risk of his own life and position”.
In a condolence message to President Mnangagwa, Cde Mugabe’s family and the people of Zimbabwe, VP Chiwenga, who is presently receiving treatment in China, said the former founding President prosecuted the liberation struggle with distinction after taking over the reins of the party in 1977.
“It is with a deep sense of sorrow and shock that I learnt of the untimely passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President Cde RG Mugabe, on 6 September 2019.
“Cde Mugabe was the liberator of Zimbabwe, who upon taking the reins of leadership of Zanu in 1977, led the prosecution of the liberation struggle with distinction until the attainment of national independence in 1980,” he said.
“He will remain our founding father and iconic leader of African emancipation.”
He applauded Cde Mugabe for leading Zimbabwe to become the country with one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, as well as law-abiding people, who respect the Constitution and electoral processes.
Cde Mugabe, he added, was a selfless leader, who put the national interest ahead of his own.
“He leaves behind a legacy of a country with respect for constitutionalism, whereupon elections are held as prescribed in the Constitution and the highest literacy rate in Africa.
“At the risk of his own life and position, Cde Mugabe courageously empowered the nation, through the land reform programme. . .
“As I extend my condolences from China, my heartfelt sympathises are with his beloved family, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde E.D Mnangagwa and the nation at large. May his dear soul rest in eternal peace,” said VP Chiwenga.
The VP has been in China since July.
He served as Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces from 2004 to 2017, with the then President Mugabe as his Commander-in-Chief.
Prior to being Commander ZDF, Chiwenga also served Cde Mugabe as Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army from 1994 to 2003.
Before independence, General Chiwenga was one of the celebrated military officers, who signed the revolutionary Mgagao Declaration that was a turning point in the history of the liberation struggle in 1975.
The declaration led to a seismic shift in Zanu as it led to the removal of Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole as president.
He was later replaced by Cde Mugabe. The Zanu congress in Chimoio, Mozambique, in 1977 endorsed the Mgagao declaration and affirmed Cde Mugabe’s leadership.
General Chiwenga led a military coup which toppled former president Mugabe from power in November 2017, resulting in President Emmerson Mnangagwa rising to the presidency. The military action was code-named Operation Restore Legacy.